Scorpions are one of the oldest living arthropods, with a number of unique food habits and survival skills. They are also extremely popular as exotic pets. The following article describes some of the interesting dietary habits of scorpions.
Members of the arachnid family, and closely related to spiders, ticks and mites, scorpions have been around for 400 million years, making them one of the oldest living, terrestrial arthropods. Found in nearly every habitat around the world from the dense grasslands, to tropical forests, deserts and mountains, these hardy creatures are known for their adaptable lifestyle, low metabolism, and the extremely famous, or rather infamous, sting in their tail.
The pointed stinger and body shape may have earned the scorpion a bad reputation, but in truth among the 2000 known scorpion species, only forty scorpions have venom strong enough to kill humans. Most of the poisonous scorpions are found South America, India, Middle East, Mexico and Africa. They have also become extremely popular as pets thanks to their sturdy constitution and seemingly calm temperament. This has raised questions about appropriate scorpion care, especially the diet of scorpions. Here is a detailed account of what scorpions eat in wild and in captivity.
- Insects like beetles, crickets, flies and wasps
- Insect eggs
- Other Scorpions
- Young snakes
Unlike popular notion, scorpions do drink water. In wild, scorpions can drink from water sources like small pools or puddles. They also get water from the consumed prey. The baby scorpions are fed by the mother who carries them on the back till they molt for the first time.
Water has to provided by soaking cotton ball in water, or placed in a shallow dish in the scorpion tank. Baby scorpions that molt for the first time, and are separated from the mother, can be fed small baby crickets and other small feeders. The scorpions being nocturnal, are best fed at night.
It is important to note that scorpions eat live food. To keep a regular supply of food for the scorpion, you have to buy crickets from pet stores, and place them in a tank. The pet stores also offer cricket food, or it is easy to make cricket food at home with fresh fruits, vegetables or rolled oats. Since the nutrition would be passed on from the cricket to the pet scorpion, it is important to feed the crickets nutritional foods regularly.
When the scorpion catches an insect or any other prey, it does not gobble it up instantly. Instead it first stings the prey with powerful venom to kill it, and then secretes an enzyme through the chelicerae to breaks down the insect matter into an easily digestible matter. The liquified parts of the prey are then sucked into the stomach by a pumping action. The external digestion helps the scorpion derive the maximum nutrients from its prey without having to exhaust its energy in internal digestion. The entire process of eating and digesting food is quite slow, and it can take hours.
Their unique food habits and survival skills allow the scorpions to survive for years, making it one of the longest-living species in the arachnid family. Instances of scorpions being frozen for a night, and then walking away the next morning unharmed have only confirmed this fact.